Anaïs Maviel’s hOULe

In writing a response to the occasion of hearing Anaïs Maviel’s solo album, hOULe, one reasonable question for me to begin with might be: what do I hear her doing? what is its end?  In the question there is already a hint of an answer. It shows I’ve been made to assume that there is some specific work unfolding, and that there is an objective —whether it is halted and shifting or steadily accelerated toward—directing the tappings, testings, rattles, punches and flutters I hear. I’ve been made to assume so and this pressure comes from the situation itself of listening (or watching, in the case of her live performance, which I’ve been lucky to see a number of times) from which neither performer nor receiver is extricable, and it’s hard to say who’s responsible for what. I maintain, though, that Anaïs provides some active help in the way of facilitating a belief on my part that her performance constitutes an act of diligent somatic and intellectual labor. In performance, I see it in her face and limbs, in how they manipulate their tools; and I hear it quickly, before thinking to interpret. There is an insistent meaningfulness in the wordless address Anaïs makes; the sure statement that something will be accomplished. She says it without saying it, because in this way we are made to see that saying is mostly doing anyway, and it is no accident that her performance is concentrated in the mouth and the hands. She is a cortical homunculus doing many things. Saying yes and then no. Stopping to assess the situation. Lamenting what just happened. Playing games. Protecting herself. Expelling secrets. Punctuating a line. Positing and retracting. Ruminating and then growing captivated. The thrill in this for us, is in the open invitation to do it all, too, which is, I think, inevitable, so long as one is listening.

 

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